How To Make Your Own Windows Live CD

Varun Kashyap 20-01-2009

how to make windows live cdLive CDs as you know allow you to boot your computer from a CD-ROM and performs various functions on your system. Such Live CDs are excellent for recovering data, fixing problems or to have a custom desktop at your disposal when you are not at your own computer.


While the Live CDs are common place in the Linux world, it’s not often that you hear about a Windows Live CD.

Here today we are going to show you how to make custom Windows Live CD

Tools Required

  • Bart PE
  • Your Windows installation CD


    1. Download and install the latest version of Bart PE. Fire up the PE Builder. This is the main screen that appears:

pe builder - create windows live cd

    1. All additional functionality that you want to add is done by means of plug-ins. There are loads of them to choose from. Plug-ins are nothing but a way to add additional software to your Live CD. You can visit the Bart PE plug-in repository here.
    2. For our purposes we require a special plug-in called Windows XPE, which gives us a way to boot into a GUI environment similar to Windows as opposed to the usual command line interface. You are free to choose any other plug-ins for additional functionality that you want to add. There are plug-ins for disc recovery, office work, backups, disk imaging and so on.
    3. Now insert your Windows Installation disc and point PE Builder to the CD/DVD drive containing the Windows installation disc or the location of the copied files (great if you have a laptop and the i386 folder containing the files).
    4. Click on the plug-ins button at the bottom. This allows you to add more software and tweak the existing software/plug-ins. If you get an error here, chances are that the path you provided in source is not correct.

create windows live cd

    1. Click ‘add’ and browse to the location where you stored the Windows XPE plug-in to add it. Since we are using the XPE plug-in you can safely disable the Nu2shell, PENETCFG and A43 plugins since these offer functionality that is already included with the XPE plug-in.
    2. Click ‘close’. You can now directly burn a disc or save an ISO file for testing which you can burn later. Click ‘build’ and PE builder will get to work.

How To Make Your Own Windows Live CD bulding

  1. If the build process completes without any errors, you have made yourself a Live CD.

Mine completed in just under 2 minutes without any errors and amounted to 270 MB with Windows XPE plug-in and 154 MB without it. Here are the screen shots from my LiveCD which I tested in VirtualBox:

How To Make Your Own Windows Live CD booting

How To Make Your Own Windows Live CD booting1

How To Make Your Own Windows Live CD loading


How To Make Your Own Windows Live CD startmenu

There are additional hacks that you can use to customize the text that appears when loading, the wallpaper and other things. However, that required editing some files and is a little cumbersome. In any case, with or without the visual customizations, you now have a fully functional Live CD with the tools you want according to your specific requirements. There are numerous other possibilities that you can explore with such a tool. For example you can create a Live DVD with all your favorite programs and documents.

Have you ever created a custom Live CD? What PE Builder plug-ins did you use or plan to use when you created one? Do you know of some other tool that can be used tp make Windows Live CD? Why not share it in the comments?

Related topics: Data Backup, Live CD, Virtualization.

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  1. Joshua
    September 17, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    The link to bartPE appears obsoleted :(

  2. Bouncy Castle Hire Weston-Super-Mare
    February 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Thank you so much, I needed to make a windows live CD so I could upgrade the bios on a dell , bios fw only comes in windows envirometn, and the whole reason I wanted to run the fw upgrade is because the laptop wouldnt install windows !!! AGHHH. thanks for this handy guide :p

  3. Neha Lekhak
    January 11, 2010 at 4:25 am

    I have an IBM 51 Laptop which I formatted around 9 months back. Somehow, I lost the backup for the data which I had maintained for the same in an External Hard Disk. Thereafter, I have written various volumes of other data on my Laptop's current Hard Disk. Is there any way out by which I could retrieve the data present on my Hard Disk before it had been formatted.

  4. victor
    December 28, 2009 at 3:06 am

    use "parted magic" and forget windows live !

    with this live os u can connect to internet

    access to any kind of partitions

    make images from ur partitions and ...

  5. Faiyaz
    November 28, 2009 at 12:39 am

    does this live cd provide network compatibility for web browser?

  6. Tower Defense
    November 27, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Although, its is much easier to borrow one when you need it.. :)

  7. jessica
    November 27, 2009 at 8:36 am

    great article .... :) very helpfull

  8. Jeremy
    October 24, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    well i could do that if i put it on a flash drive or something but dosent the game have to be in the registry???? or is it possible to add the game to the disk????

  9. Jeremy
    October 24, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Is it possible to install games with it or play combat arms like online fps's some1 reply back with some answers please.

  10. Stam | Bike Games
    October 12, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Nice one, a friend of mine just called me looking for something like this. I am going to direct him here to learn how to do it. Thanks!

  11. FreewareMatter
    October 3, 2009 at 3:21 am

    I really like this article. The ISO image file is so small :)

    I'd like to include some utilities like partition tools, disk clone tools or antivirus program. I took a look at some others Live CDs, but they don't include enough, maybe of the license.

    Thank you very much.

  12. Aditya
    September 20, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Ultimate tool when system crashes
    I hope everyone will like it.

  13. henk
    September 19, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    cant think no one mentioned Hiren's Boot CD? I think its better than UBCD 4 Win

  14. Snapafun
    August 31, 2009 at 1:18 am Vista Ultimate Installation disk doesn't appear to have an i386 folder. Am I on the right page here ?

  15. Yogesh Malik
    August 3, 2009 at 5:15 am

    Great Article, i need to keep a count on how many live operating systems can i have?

  16. JoeS
    March 15, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Definitely wanna try this out, i wanna make a personal recovery live CD, and if possible include my video card driver, so i can work with 100Hz cuz 60Hz really hurts my eyes
    (yes i still have a CRT monitor)

    I already have such a thing from a friend, i was wondering if i could re-edit that ? seeing as it doesn't boot on my machine.

  17. shaheen
    February 28, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    O great dear,s.

  18. sriram
    January 22, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Finally, Windows comes to Linux way...

  19. Rarst
    January 21, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I second

    Windows LiveCD is excellent tool but can be somewhat time-consuming to prepare and keep updated.

  20. thanassis
    January 21, 2009 at 11:34 am

    very useful post.... is flexible and works with vista or xp as well.

  21. chris
    January 20, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    the XPE plugin was continued as reatogo which is a separate creation. Much easier way to add plugins and it works well with my portable apps.

  22. Claw
    January 20, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Very nice tutorial! I've been looking for something like this few days ago.

    Thanks again! Regards :)

  23. Guy Cross
    January 20, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    @Grande - cool comment...

  24. Grande
    January 20, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    What about Ultimate Boot CD for Windows? Same principle (relies on bartpe to build) but a zillion tools preloaded. Perfect tool for repairing hosed computers.